Martinsburg's Grantham wins player of year
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Turns out mother knew best, and on the biggest stage of his life, Donte' Grantham heeded mom's advice.
With 11 seconds remaining and Martinsburg up 55-52 on Woodrow Wilson in the Class AAA state championship game March 16, Grantham was fouled.
He nearly sprinted to the other side of the floor and toed the foul line.
"When we watch games my mom always tells me, 'This guy is going to make these free throws,'" Grantham said."She said when a guy runs to the foul line, or sees a guy run out of a timeout to find the man his guarding on defense, he is going to succeed because he's confident and ready to go.
"So when I was fouled, I wanted to get the foul line. I just knew I was going to make those free throws."
He knocked both down and clinched the state title for Martinsburg.
It was fitting that Grantham was at the line, finishing off the Bulldog's 26-2 state championship season with the final points of his career.
The 6-foot-7 Grantham finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds in the state championship victory.
Grantham was the best player on the state's best team and finished the season being named as the Evans Award winner as the boys basketball player of the year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
"Donte' is well deserving," Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said. "He picked this team up and carried it the last seven games and refused to let us lose. He did what he was supposed to do. We've had a lot of great players over the years, and Donte' is right up there with the best."
In a program renowned for great players, Grantham is the first player to score 1,000 points and grab more than 500 rebounds. He finished with 1,067 points and topped 600 career rebounds.
He is just the second Martinsburg player to win the Evans Award, joining current assistant coach Marsalis Basey in the elite group. Basey went on to star at West Virginia.
"He deserved it," Basey said. "He was dominant. There were times during the season where I thought maybe he wasn't playing as well as he could. When he had to step up, he did it. That's the mark of a winner."
For the season Grantham averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He also had 54 steals, 44 assists and 46 blocked shots. He also had 33 3 pointers.
Grantham was a point guard early in his career, before a growth spurt from the summer before his freshman year to his junior year saw him shoot up from 5-foot-9 to 6-7.
"Being a point guard all those years really helped my game develop," Grantham said. "Guards have to make good decisions. You have to be able to pass, handle the ball.
"I've always had the mentality that a pass is as good as a basket. A great pass can get a crowd hyped. If (teammate) Jalen (Lewis) makes a good no-look pass to me for an easy basket, well then, the pass was as good as the basket. It was the pass that led to the points."
"That's the thing that made Donte' such a great player," said Basey, who was a point guard at Martinsburg. "He thought like a point guard at times. He's often get the ball and lead the break. He can step out and hit the 3. What a weapon that was, because other team's bigs had a hard time matching up with him because of his skill set."
Grantham will now move on to the next level.
Possible college destinations include Marshall, West Virginia, Villanova, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Maryland, Nebraska, Clemson, Wake Forest, Xavier and Temple.
Clemson offered Grantham after seeing him play one time.
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins saw him play in Martinsburg and again in the state tournament.
George Washington's Luke Eddy, who beat Martinsburg in the 2012 Class AAA semifinals with a 3 pointer, was runner-up for the award.
Grantham will receive the Evans Award at the Victory Awards Dinner, May 5, in Clarksburg.
Others considered for the award were Magnolia's Mark Winters, Woodrow Wilson's Donte Nabors, Bluefield's Lykel Collier and Anthony Eades, Hutington High's Arick Nicks, Parkersburg South's Wes Mitchem, Tug Valley's Austin Brewer, Morgantown's Adrian and Shady Spring's Chase Connor.